My daughter is 27 months old and should be ready for potty training, but I just can't make this work. What should I do?
For anyone embarking on the task of potty training, it's important to make sure that you have realistic expectations. For some parents, that involves realizing that not all children learn to use the potty at the same age. While it's true that some children may show signs of potty training readiness between 18 to 24 months, the average age for toilet training in the US is somewhere between the ages of 2 and 3.
Setting realistic expectations also involves making sure that your child is actually ready to start the process. There are several key developmental skills that toddlers typically need to have before they are likely to achieve success on the potty. These include not only simply being able to pull down their pants and follow simple commands, but also having a general awareness of what's going on when they need to pee or poop. For some children, this simply means stopping what they are doing when they feel the sensation. Others may actually go and hide—especially when they need to poop. And finally, it works in your favor if your child is motivated to use the potty. After all, when children dislike the feeling of having a wet or dirty diaper and actually want to be changed, or want to imitate older siblings and/or adults who they see using the toilet—these can be very motivating reasons to want use the potty themselves.
In addition to assessing whether your daughter is ready, I also suggest keeping a positive attitude and reminding yourself that potty training should more appropriately be referred to as "potty learning." It often takes up to three to six months to master this skill, during which time you should remind yourself that you and your child are on the same team. I find that keeping this attitude firmly in mind helps to limit the potential frustration parents otherwise tend to feel when faced with a less-than-smooth experience.
For anyone interested in finding out more fun ways to successfully prepare and positively encourage children to use the potty, feel free to check out my new children's book called You and Me Against the Pee … and the Poop, Too!